FRIDAY: Raymond and Taholah.
SOUTH BEND — Two years after their state championship season, South Bend’s footballers are in a full rebuilding mode.
The senior-dominated Indians made a memorable run to the state 2B title in 2010. The holdovers from that club produced a 4-6 record and a district playoff appearance last year, but the majority of those players were also seniors.
That leaves this year’s Tribe with an exceptionally young squad that includes only two returning starters. South Bend opens its season on Aug. 31 with a non-leaguer at Willapa Valley.
While many coaches bristle at the mention of the term, “rebuilding year,” Tribe boss Tom Sanchez acknowledges that it applies in this case.
“There’s no doubt about that. And we’re rebuilding from the ground up,” Sanchez said. “We’ve had a couple of classes with not many kids. This may be a penance from our success from a couple of years ago. Rebuilding is beyond accurate.”
South Bend’s roster currently numbers only 22, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. By late September, Sanchez figures to pick up about a half-dozen additional players who are currently ineligible. By that time, some of his other players will have gained valuable seasoning.
“Experience is the big issue, there’s no quick fix for that,” Sanchez said. “Our strength is our willingness to learn. There’s not a lot of bad habits we have to overcome.”
The Tribe’s youth is best reflected in the backfield. Sophomore Austin Lewis will take over at quarterback, with freshman Ryan Overstake the likely starter at tailback in South Bend’s veer, run-oriented offense.
Marcus Overstake, Ryan’s older brother, will likely man the other running back slot.
Junior Dennis Johnson, one of the two returning starters, opens as one of the wide receivers. Senior Austin Boyes and freshman R.J. King are battling for the starting berth at the other wideout, with junior Chris Jewell the probable starter at tight end.
South Bend’s line is somewhat older, although not a great deal more experienced in game situations.
Guard Andrew Spoor, a junior, is the other returning starter. The Indians also possess a couple of seniors up front in center Levi Hix and tackle Augustin Diaz.
Junior Matt Lewis and sophomores Marcos Perales and Jordan Lorton will also compete for playing time in the line.
The Indians will utilize an odd-front defense.
Probable defensive starters include Perales, Hix, Diaz, Jewell and Spoor up front, the Overstake brothers, Matt Lewis and Lorton at the linebacker slots and Johnson, King, Boyes, Austin Lewis and sophomore Fernando Mena in the secondary.
Sanchez rates Raymond and Willapa Valley as the Pacific League favorites.
Shane Byington, Shawn Friese, Tom Wetterauer and Chuck Spoor return as football assistants.